Contracted is definitely not a film for the squeamish.
Telling the slow burn story of Samantha, a young lady in modern Los Angeles with dreams of making it big, it is clear from the very beginning that it will not end well for her.
After a drunken one night stand with a mysterious stranger, she begins to notice severe changes, many of which are ripped directly from our nightmares (and the films of David Cronenberg).
Samantha’s life is falling apart as her body deteriorates, and she does nothing but try to hide her degeneration from her friends and family.
Affected by what is essentially a sexually-transmitted version of a “zombie virus”, Samantha falls apart mentally and physically, with all of the grossest effects you can think of.
Unfortunately, aside from Samantha, the supporting characters are fairly empty, including her “best friend” Alice, her experimental lesbian stereotype lover Nikki, and her obsessed stalker/suitor, Riley. Although this could be intentionally to satirize the vacuousness of the hip young L.A. crowd, it really hampers the believability of the characters and their motivations in the final chapters of the film.
What is effective is Samantha’s growing desperation as her body fights against her.
Her metamorphosis is the star of the movie, and the make up effects are well done, as she rots away and maggots fall from her girl parts.
In a market buried in zombie releases, at least this film tries to give us a unique spin on it, and the paranoia and desperation of the main character’s degeneration is the thing that sticks with me most, more than a week after seeing the film.
Although it veers from believability toward the end when Samantha begins to succumb to her primal zombie urges, the overall effect is a horrifying commentary on the choices we make and how they may come back to bite us in the end.
Grade : B
This film is now playing in select theaters, and available On Demand from several different options, including Amazon Streaming.
After passing it up for a while now, I finally caught Would You Rather late last night.
The trailer looked interesting, and it does have Jeffrey Combs in a starring role as a sadistic philanthropist. Worth a shot, right?
So I went in, not really expecting much, but it turned out that I loved this mean-spirited subversion of the “torture porn” trend turning up in many current horror films.
The story opens as Brittany Snow’s character Iris is job-hunting and struggling with bills and her very ill younger brother. After an unsuccessful interview, her mounting desperation leads her to accept an offer to join a dinner party from a mysterious benefactor (Combs), at the urging of her trusted doctor.
The subtlety of the film is striking, (and continues throughout, even as things get grislier) as Iris’ situation is painted in broad strokes, but it works very well. We don’t need to know everything about her (or the other characters, which are outlined just as loosely later), we only need to know she is a good-hearted person in need.
As the odd dinner party commences, Combs steals the show with his shifting mixture of forceful menace and feigned tenderness. His role as the generous father figure with a dark side is hypnotic to watch.
I loved the minimalist style of the whole movie, which sounds odd given Jeffrey Combs’ over-the-top performance, but he injects a lot to his character in the quieter moments. He is clearly having such a good time that one can’t help resist feeling a certain amount of complicity with his sadistic game.
The game starts off simply enough, as the host treats Iris and a group of seven other guests to a lavish dinner spread. The first hint of things not being what they seem occurs as Combs amuses himself by tempting vegetarian Iris to eat her meat for $10,000 which she agrees to. He ups the stakes, and his gleeful sadism, when he offers another guest who is a recovering alcoholic the sum of $50,000 to drink an entire decanter of Scotch.
His point is that everyone has a price, and desperation can drive people to do things that they claim to be unable to. Any one is capable of any thing, and Combs’ character knows this. He continues to exploit it throughout the rest of the film, as the game gets progressively meaner and bloodier, and the other players get “eliminated”.
The film is mostly set in a single fancy dining room, creating a claustrophobic quality that makes the audience feel as helplessly trapped as its characters. The scenario escalates with each round of the game, and there are little to no hysterical outbursts, another thing that I appreciated about the story. Each character has their own reasons for being there, and they tend to react (mostly) reasonably given their predicament.
Obviously, there can only be one winner of the game, and the last scenes ratchet up the tension until it all ends with Combs giddily driving his point home. The final scene is one of the cruelest punchlines of an ending since Frank Darabont’s adaptation of The Mist.
I very much enjoyed this harsh low-budget game of chance, and I honestly am not a fan of most torture porn flicks. Jeffrey Combs has another memorable role to add to his already impressive resume, and director David Guy Levy is now on my radar for people to watch out for in the future. This one actually had a point (albeit a mean-spirited one) and was a well-done and effective watching experience, including one sequence that actually made this hardened gore geek squirm and look away!
A new book from Joe R. Lansdale is always something to get excited about.
An author of some of the darkest, weirdest stories out there, he is an amazing talent and a great storyteller. I am a long-time fan of his work, and though you may not instantly recognize his name, you may know him by some of his more famous stories.
His novella Bubba Ho-tep was adapted to film by Don Coscarelli, starring Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis. His story “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road” (one of my personal favorites) was adapted to film for Showtime’s “Masters of Horror.” He is currently co-producing several films, among them The Bottoms, based on his Edgar Award-winning novel, with Bill Paxton and Brad Wyman, and The Drive-In, with Greg Nicotero.
Now, the great people at Dark Regions Press are giving us fans a unique opportunity to produce and own a beautiful new edition of his next book. This will be the second book in what is being called the Black Labyrinth series.
The first in the series was “The Walls of the Castle” by Tom Piccirilli, and it has just been announced that one of the future books in the series will be a special edition of Clive Barker’s “The Midnight Meat Train” It will be bound in alligator skin and will include special materials/writings and more created/based on the story.
Here is what Joe has to say about the story for his upcoming Black Labyrinth novella:
“Currently working with Black Labyrinth to create a book of psychological horror, and well, a little bit of overt horror as well. It’s a novella, not a novel, but there will be plenty of room for shadow and sounds, for whatever it takes to scare a reader. What if there is a prison graveyard on an island for the worst of the worst. A place where the unclaimed go. Those who have been executed or died by disease or old age would end up on this island. Taken there by ferry in the middle of the night to be deposited in the ground like rotten rutabaga seeds. And what if on that island are two caretakers, a gravedigger and the ferry man. And with the remains of all that evil there in this dark, lost place in the middle of a great bubble of sea and wind and starry night sky, something goes way damn wrong. And it isn’t at all what you think it is.”
These books are also being illustrated by an amazing artist, Santiago Caruso.
Mr. Caruso was born in 1982, in Quilmes, Argentina.
He is a symbolist and surreal artist, with an avant-garde concept but rooted in the nineteenth century´s decadentism.
He will create original color front cover artwork and four original B&W interior illustrations for Book II based on the story.
Joe R. Lansdale’s Black Labyrinth Book II will be offered in ebook, trade paperback, Kickstarter exclusive trade paperback and three signed limited edition hardcovers. Find detailed information on each at the official kickstarter page for this project, along with other great incentives!
This is one kickstarter to get excited about!
Check it out, friends!
Everybody is familiar with the game of poker. With a bunch of people huddled around a table with the intent to deceive the others and go home with the pot, tensions are always flying high in a poker game. But imagine sitting there, having paid the last bills out of your pockets to play for a million dollars, and being so close to winning you can just taste it. Your opponent stares you down with a perfect poker face, and as he lays his hand down for everyone to see, your heart starts racing in your ears and you know that it’s the moment of truth, it’s do or die, and you either walk away from this broke, or a millionaire.
That’s what every poker player goes through at every poker game they play in. According to Betfair, the biggest win from a poker game went to Antonio Esfandiari — a pot of $18,346,673! With stakes that high, it’s no wonder people like Jack Straus have died while playing poker, and maybe the spirits of these players are still haunting the casinos they died in to this day.
Last year, a mediocre horror movie called “The Haunted Casino” was released in the US, and while it was nothing but cheap scare tactics and predictability, there are some haunted casino stories that will give you the chills.
One such story involves a young cashier working for a casino in Colorado. The town was already a hotspot for hauntings, with an old cemetery up a hill and a disastrous gold accident. The casino she was working in reportedly had cold spots all over, especially in the basement. There were no obvious explanations for these cold spots, and the cocktail waitresses would often observe them in various places throughout the casino.
The cashier and the other employees visited another casino for drinks after work sometimes, and the cashier was able to befriend some of the security guards. The guards told her the story of a little girl who could be seen through the casino’s security cameras, but not with the naked eye. As the story went, a little girl had been spotted in the casino’s security cameras, running around the halls. A security guard went to get her since children were not allowed in the casino, but he couldn’t see any children. The guard watching the cameras radioed to him telling him that he was standing right next to the girl, even though there was nobody there.
Maybe the child got lost and never found her away out of the casino, and her soul remains there to this day. Lots of bizarre things happen in casinos, so this doesn’t seem too far-fetched. The intensity of the poker and blackjack games that go on in these casinos are enough to draw the living in, and maybe even the departed still spend their days playing at these tables.
My mother and I have this tradition, it’s called Friday Night Movies. Being the lucky daughter that I am, my mama has a thirst for horror flicks. My father and I also have our own movie tradition, except we watch Westerns instead of Horror flicks. I can honestly say, no one that I know was more excited than I was to see Gallow Walkers come to RedBox. Blade was one of my favorite Marvel characters growing up and seeing Wesley Snipes adapt his character on the big screen left me giddy with excitement. Besides, he even had the pleasure of working with Norman Reedus in Blade 2. I digress. So here we have Wesley Snipes, who originally started filming for the role in 2006 before he was arrested for tax fraud. He returns to the role, fresh outta the joint and back in one of his most beloved characters. Vampire Hunter. Even better yet? A vampire hunter set on a mother frenchin’ Western backdrop. I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. Finally something both my parents would agree on.
So let us begin with “Gallow Walkers (2012).”
The story begins with a sweeping view of the desolate, western mountains. Wesley Snipes narrates as he tells the story about a secret sisterhood of nuns that guard the realm of the living and the realm of the dead. Later in the movie it is revealed that Aman (Snipes), was the son of a nun who was forced to give him up after joining the convent. Or as he narrates- the gateway to hell is no place to raise a child.
The opening scene narrows on a young, impossibly blonde child as he works his way through a slaughterhouse/farm home carrying buckets of blood. Off in the distance there’s a lone rider. Snipes wearing a fabulous maroon vest and boasting some impressive dreadlocks, that approaches dragging a grotesque, red-headed corpse. The scene cuts to a mysterious older woman who, using a mighty large ax, decapitates the body. Wonderful opening that sets the scene for a great movie.
It doesn’t stop there. There’s a scene where Snipes rips the head (with the spinal cord still attached) straight off of a poor guy’s shoulders, blasts people away with perfectly placed shots- it’s just amazing.
Wesley Snipes stars as a lone gunman Aman whose victims have returned from the dead, leaving him to hunt them for a second time. As the movie progresses, we meet the gorgeous Riley Smith (Fabulos) who is in a predicament with a curvaceous prostitute with exceedingly bad luck played by Tanit Phoenix (Angel). These two, along with other arrestees are tied up and awaiting transit to the gallows, which means it’s a perfect opportunity to showcase some good ol’ western gunslinging skills. From a mile away atop of a rock with his pistol, Aman shoots down the lawmen, Fabulos takes cover and only by pure intuition holds up his shackles as a target- Aman blows them apart. Seeing his chance to escape, Fabulos jumps on a horse and races to catch up with his mysterious savior while poor Angel is left with a pouty face and sigh saying “What’s a girl gotta do to get rescued around here?”
Fabulous catches up with Aman, and being the vague and mysterious gunman of the west, he offers no explanation other than the offer of a job. Brought to an undisclosed house in the middle of nowhere, Fabulos is tricked and falls through a trap door where he encounters- for the first time, Gallow Walkers. Aman is tests Fabulos’ skill with the gun, and the handsome young rider clearly passes. Slowly it is revealed why Aman needs his help.
We all know Wesley Snipes can act, but there is a monologue where he reveals a story about a boy who was given up by a mother and adopted by a woman who ran a slaughterhouse. For those who want to roll their eyes at this scene at how cheesy it sounds, it is done this way on purpose- I assure you.
Continuing on with the story. The young woman also had a daughter. As with all good westerns, this is a story about love. The Boy was Aman, and the daughter, her name was Sueno (played by Alyssa Pridham). The tale takes a tragic twist when the boy- now a young man leaves with his adopted mother to sell the meat from their latest butcher. While he was away, the antagonist, Kansa (Kevin Howarth) along with his gang of outlaws and his son come upon the house. Kansa forces his son (barely a man) to rape Sueno. During this scene, we see flashes of the red-headed decapitatee from the beginning, and several other familiar faces that Aman has been cleaning up and killing thus far.
Kansa and his gang of vampire/zombie/undead whathaveyou’s have a problem with keeping the skin on their flesh. So much to our delight, there are vivid scenes of victims being skinned for their…well, skin as Kansa wanders in search of the sisterhood in order to resurrect his son. For reasons unbeknownst to him, while all of the others in his gang came back from the dead, his son was left as a corpse. He wants answers, and he’ll stop at nothing to get them. Unless Snipes has something to do with it of course.
I won’t give the rest of the film away, but I’ve seen some pretty harsh reviews out for Gallow Walkers and I had to intercede. Those reviews were written with the expectation that it was supposed to be a straight up horror/thriller. I was shocked, much the same when I saw awful reviews about Cabin in the Woods 2012. The people who wrote those reviews didn’t understand what type of films like these were supposed to be.
The movie should not be viewed by the horror fan with the expectation of something dreadfully scary and shocking. It plays as more of a dark comedy feeding off of a playful western stereotype, with plenty of blood and guts for the gore lovers. The special effects makeup in this film was phenomenal, undoubtedly due to the skills of Brian Hillard from Tatopoulos Studios and Paul Hyett on as part of the crew. It is meant to be cheesy, it’s meant to seem over the top. You’re supposed to laugh at it, roll your eyes and go “unfreakin’believable,” and as far as the story goes I thought it was well written and enjoyable to watch.
I give this film an A.
It was awesome, go watch it, it’s currently out at RedBox, it’s only a $1.29, it won’t kill you. :]
Just in time for Halloween, two of my favorite bands have just released great new freaky albums to get you excited for the holiday!
First off, we have folk-punk weirdos Harley Poe, with their great new release “Pagan Holiday”. This band reminds me of a more psychotic version of the Violent Femmes, and they have consistently produced some freaky horror folk since 2005.
According to their official website, the the first seeds of Harley Poe were planted while singer-songwriter Joe Whiteford fronted the Christian band Calibretto 13, whose turn toward monster-themed songs ultimately pushed their label to drop them. More surprisingly, Whiteford does not view the break as disastrous. “There is no departure, no falling away or turning around,” Whiteford writes. “My art and music, whether it’s Calibretto or Harley Poe are all part of the same path. They all come from this heart and this mind.”
“Horror is a study of humanity’s fear of death and the unknown. It can be cathartic, just like Christianity, or any religion for that matter. Religion is a way for mankind to deal with the fear and inevitability of death. That’s ultimately what horror is; the fear of being killed.”
This great inventive band has just released a new Halloween-themed album with some gleefully dark songs for all of us horror fans.
The album gets off to an uncharacteristically metal intro and eases into the creepy folk we have come to expect from the band with the triple threat “Vengeance The Demon/ Close The Door/ Outcrowd”.
The second track, “Gorehound” was an instant favorite for me, a great tribute to all of us true horror film lovers. Followed by a great rendition of John Carpenter’s “Halloween Theme Song” and the epic tune “Pagan Holiday Parts 1, 2. and 3 : A Celebration / Dormant / Revenge”.
They next take on the Rolling Stone’s creepy classic “Paint It Black”, putting their own unique folksy spin on it, and close out the album with a very creepy collection of weirdness called “Terror Trippin’ 2″.
This album has been in constant rotation for me, and will be for the foreseeable future!
Have a listen on the Spotify player below, and be sure and get your copy here!
And, if that weren’t enough, my old pal Lonesome Wyatt has given us another new classic for this and future Halloweens! The new album from Lonesome Wyatt and the Holy Spooks is a bit of a departure from his unique brand of haunting gothic country evidenced by his last album, and his work with Those Poor Bastards.
The new one “Halloween Is Here” is more of a throw-back to all those strange and obscure Halloween albums from the 1950s to the 1980s. It contains twelve spooky stories and monstrous sing-a-longs for your unholy holiday party at the local insane asylum.
It all gets off to an appropriately spooky start with the intro “A Time That Never Was” and moves directly into a good old-fashioned campfire sing-along with the title track. Mr. Lonesome goes on to tell us stories about werewolves, mummies and ghosts throughout the album, all with a minimalist approach making the album a true weirdo delight.
The story of “The Giant Fist” is a favorite, and the hauntingly sad song “Such A Fright” are definite stand-outs, but the album is full of great creepy tunes and tales that are fun for all ages.
Mr. Lonesome is a very creative independent musician I have been a big fan of for a long time now. Be sure and check out his other work, including his great first novel, The Terrible Tale Of Edgar Switchblade! I had a brief chat with Mr. Lonesome, and he assured me that a new volume of Ol’ Edgar’s horrible adventures will be forthcoming this winter!
You can give the album a listen for free below via Spotify, and be sure and order your own copy, along with various shirts and buttons and other cool stuff right here!
Unfortunately, these cool vinyl editions are sold out.
Growing up, I’ve always been somewhat of a horror snob. I’ve retained an old school mentality “they just don’t make ‘em like they used to” attitude when it comes to horror movies. So it’s always a shock when I see a newer horror movie that legitimately gives me the goddamn creeps. Insidious (2010) did that for me. With movie mediums like Redbox, HBO, Vudu and the like, I rarely purchase movies anymore- Insidious made the cut and has a prominent place on my shelf. It had all my favorite elements: dark, creepy, jump scares with an amazing score that just sent chills up my spine. I haven’t been scared by a horror movie in a long time, but Insidious left me saying “what the f@!$” more than once, so I was excited when I heard the news Insidious 2 was coming out this year.
With that being said, I waited a couple weeks to go see it to get opinions from people who had seen it and to avoid the box office rush (It grossed 41.1 million opening weekend) of tweens that would scream at every little scare and trash my movie going experience and I was quite shocked at the reaction. What I deduced from friends and acquaintances was that you either really love this movie or you absolutely hate it. I haven’t met one person who was in between. It breaks down to whether or not you got what James Wan (story writer) was trying to portray. So without further adieu, onto the review for Insidious 2 (2013). The below will contain minor spoilers, don’t worry I’ll warn you when we get to the major ones!
The story follows the protagonists and returning actors Patrick Wilson (Josh), Rose Byrne (Renai), Ty Simpkins (Dalton) and Barbara Hershey (Lorraine). The cliff hanging climax of Insidious left us with the impression that the mysterious woman in Black has possessed Josh’s body and murdered Elise, played by Lin Shaye and the days following the incident.
The movie opens with a flashback to when Josh was a child and the first time he meets Elise and it is discovered he can use astral projection to travel into the further. A young Elise (Lindsay Seim) wanders the home in search of the entity that is haunting Josh, after reviewing pictures that shows the mysterious woman in black- later dubbed the Bride in Black. She finds the evil spirit in Josh’s closet and Elise investigates after Josh insists Elise should leave- and of course, the spirit injures her. The scene progresses to where Josh stands in a hypnotic states and says “I’ll show you” wanders into a hallway, points at a door and it opens by itself- causing Elise and Lorraine to make the decision to wipe his memory of his ability to astral project.
Now we flash forward to current day. Renai is in the police station and the investigators are suspicious of Josh’s involvement in Elise’s death. It is clear Renai is doubting Josh, but wants to desperately believe that he is not capable of murder. The family has moved back into Josh’s childhood home with Lorraine during the investigation. The movie is a bit of a slow starter, but that is not necessarily a bad thing as we get to see Patrick Wilson make his slow descent into madness- which he does tastefully well by the way. The first one to spot a spirit is Lorraine, and naturally she confronts her son Josh- who insists that all of the evil was left behind them when he came home from the further and to drop the subject.
This is where things start to get weird. Lorraine goes into Dalton’s bedroom to check on him, and in an ominous tone that only Ty Simpkins seems to achieve informs Lorraine that “there’s someone standing behind her” while he’s dead asleep. This is where we start to see “The woman in white” quite frequently throughout the film. Renai gets the brunt of the hauntings. She is plagued by the annoying sounds of a chiming musical baby stroller going off on its, the piano playing the song she wrote for Josh in the first movie, and other various creepy happenings. The woman in white seems to love tormenting poor Renai for some unexplained reason. The apparition even goes as far as smacking the living daylights out of Renai and knocking her unconscious. What I did notice is the lack of the serious tone the first movie had. There are still jump scares that make your heart skip a beat every now and again, but it doesn’t leave you with the same creeped out feeling it’s predecessor did.
Moving onto some major spoilers as the story progresses…
Dalton later informs his mother that, during the dream sequence where he warned Lorraine about the woman in white, he woke himself up and heard Josh talking to someone that wasn’t there and asks “is something wrong with daddy?” This is where things start to get interesting and where the film really captivated my interest. By now, it’s pretty apparent that it wasn’t Josh’s spirit that made it back from the further but the Bride in Black. Josh starts getting pale, losing teeth and he slams his fists down in frustration pleading “no, not yet!” Then there’s the mysterious womanly voice that whispers inside of his head “Your dead soul is rotting that live body.” Lorraine is the first one to figure out that something is really wrong with Josh and she calls Carl (Steve Coulter), the old associate that introduced her to Elise. Together with fan favorites Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), Carl and Lorraine attempt to contact Elise in the further using Carl’s medium technique…scrabble dice.
The dice lead them to a Hospital that Lorraine used to work at, these discovery scenes were much too long in my opinion so I’m going to fast forward through them. Lorraine realizes that there was a patient the dice were leading her to named Parker Crane (Tom Fitzpatrick). The hospital is old and dilapidated but they manage to find an address that leads to an even older and more dilapidated house.
Inside they find some pretty disturbing stuff. With plenty of comedic relief from Specs and Tucker- the film starts to take on the direction of a dark comedy more than a horror film- which I thoroughly enjoyed. In this home they discover two apparitions, the spirit of a little girl with pretty blonde pigtails and the woman in white. It’s then Carl realizes they’ve been duped, and they were never really communicating with Elise, but in fact, the woman in white who deems herself the Mother of Death. They find a hollow bookshelf that leads to a lovely room filled with about twenty or so corpses all wearing veils and poised to sit in church pews where they discover that the Bride in Black is actually a notorious serial killer from a few decades ago. Even worse, that this is the spirit that is now inhabiting Josh’s body. (dramatic music)
Together, Lorraine, Carl, Specs and Tucker devise a plan to tranquilize Josh in attempts to give the real Josh a chance to slip back into his own body. Things get a bit crazy. Lorraine tells Renai the plan and she slips away with the kids while Carl goes to tranquilize Josh with Specs and Tucker for backup (This can only end well right?) It doesn’t. It does not end up well. The Mother of Death apparently keeps in contact with her Bride in Black (who we’ve all pretty much guessed was forced to dress up as a little girl by his mother and is Parker) child and Josh (Parker Crane Josh) is aware of their plan before Carl has a chance to tranq him down. It all goes downhill from there.
Meanwhile, in the further we get into some really interesting lore within the Insidious world- despite the lack of horror and scare the first film gave me the expectation for, this is where I truly fell in love with Insidious 2. I don’t want to spoil the entire film, but the real Josh finds Carl laying on the floor of the home in the further world (Yep, Bride in Black got him). Together they journey into the further darkness and this is where stuff gets cool. We learn that time isn’t relevant to the dead. The story loops back to the first film- particularly to the scene where Renai spots the creepy long haired villain in the baby’s nursery and the door opens on its own setting the alarm off. Turns out, Josh was the one that caused the door to open as he forced himself inside of the house to save his daughter from the vengeful spirit. Pretty neat eh?
Elise suggests that the only way to defeat the Bride in Black is to find her (well, his) home in the further and find something to use against him to draw him back. The time looping doesn’t stop there, without any memory of the woman in black Josh has to go back to at time where he does remember. Ringing any bells? The opening scene! Josh goes back in time to the very first session with Elise and says something along the lines of “I need to find where the woman in black lives.” and young Josh stands up and proclaims ‘I’ll show you.”
Flashback to the real world, the possessed Josh decides to go on a murderous rampage since it’s the only way to keep his body from decaying and has Lorraine, Renai, Specs and Tucker held captive more or less and they’re all fighting for their lives locking themselves in the basement. Dalton decides he’s going to astral project to help his dad get back to the body and Renai smacks the possessed Josh in the head with a pipe.
Back to the further, There’s some pretty creepy and at the same time comedic scenes to follow, including the woman in white getting beat to death (again?) with a rocking horse. After the woman in white is slain, the bride in black is called back into the further and we’re left with the impression that Carl (who apparently still had a heartbeat), Josh and Dalton all made it safely back and the Bride in Black is no longer a threat.
The movie concludes with a teaser for the third film that has already been announced due to Insidious 2’s successful box office.
This concludes any major spoilers. As I stated earlier, the film translated more as a dark comedy and lost the serious tone the first movie had. I’m left with the impression that James Wan wrote this part of the story as a way to explain some things that were left wildly unexplained in the first film. Specifically how the further works and how spirits are able to haunt a person rather than just a solitary area. I also believe that because Insidious was so good, perhaps they believed they would not be able to top it and left horror behind for comedy. I don’t feel that it “fell short” with horror, it’s my understanding that true horror simply wasn’t the direction they were going for when they made this film. Not that I’m complaining, I laughed several times throughout the movie and I can guarantee you’ll laugh more than you’ll feel scared or anxious for the characters. With that being said I feel that the types of people that will enjoy this movie are the ones who are invested in the story and not just looking for the thrill of being scared. If you’re that type, it’s still definitely worth the watch just wait for it to come out on Redbox rather than seeing it in theaters. For those who enjoy a good dark comedy, feel free to go see it and judge for yourself keeping an open mind.
Horror Grade: B!
The only thing keeping it from an A, was the expectation set from the first film.
Well, if you’re a fan of the Showtime series Dexter, you know it’s all over. The series finale aired on Sunday September 22. Beware there are some spoilers ahead!
There has been much debate and controversy on the way the beloved series of everyone’s favorite serial killer, ended. Let’s take a minute and go over how season 8 went down.
Debra Morgan has completely succumbed to her guilt becoming depressed for killing LaGuerta the shocking season finale before, and has literally gone off the deep end, quitting her job at Miami Metro and joining a private investigation firm. A new serial killer is on the loose that Miami Metro has nicknamed, “The Brain Surgeon,” due to the fact he uses a bone saw to cut through the victims skull and remove the same piece of the their brains. A psychopath expert has been called in to help with the case, Evelyn Vogel. Fast forward through the captivating ensuing drama for a few episodes, and we get a surprise and find out Dexter’s old flame from last season, Hannah is back in Miami! In a nut shell, we find out the “Brain Surgeon” (Oliver Saxon) is Vogel’s son, he ends up killing his mother in front of Dexter, Deb’s private investigation firm is hot on Hannah’s trail, Deb tries to kill Dexter (ultimately saving him anyways), she rejoins Miami Metro, and is also shot in a showdown with Oliver Saxon and Dexter plans on leaving Miami with Hannah and Harrison to Argentina.
OK. Now we are caught up with most of what season 8 has to offer. In the final episode, we see a culmination of this seasons events. A hurricane is about the hit the city of Miami. Dexter gets a phone call, against Deborah’s wishes, telling him she has been shot by Saxon and is in the hospital. Dexter was already getting ready to leave with Hannah and Harrison to Argentina, when Deb’s ex-boss from the private investigation firm, Jacob Elway, finds that Hannah is trying to leave the country and goes to the airport to intercept her. Dexter spots him first and causes a diversion by telling security he had left a suspicious bag and walked away. The airport went on lockdown, detained Elway, and the flight was delayed. Dexter goes to visit Deborah in the hospital and the doctor tells him the bullet bounced around a lot but she is optimistic in Deb’s recovery. Hurricane Laura is bearing down on Miami, and since the airport is a no-go now, Dexter feeling the need to take care of the Oliver situation himself for what he has done to Deborah and to a lesser extent, Vogel, sends Hannah and Harrison on a bus to Jacksonville and promises to meet up with them. Elway finds out through his contacts that Hannah is boarding the bus, and boards himself. He attempts to arrest her on the bus, but before the bus makes its next stop, she drugs him and she is able to get off the bus and gets away to South America with Harrison.
Before Dexter is able to track down Saxon, he finds out Deb has had complications and had an aneurysm and was put on life support. As Dexter arrives at the hospital, he watches as Battista arrests Saxon, before he was able to finish Deborah off. Dexter goes to Saxon’s cell to give him a forensic test and lures Saxon to attack him, which Dexter then grabs a pen and stabs him in the neck, killing him. After reviewing the footage from the prison cell camera, both Quinn and Battista decide Dexter was acting in self-defense and he is free to go.
With the hurricane nearing Miami in full force, Dexter once again goes to the hospital to find it in disarray, with patients being shuffled around due to the ensuing storm. He goes to Deb’s room and after some thoughtful and meaningful words, unplugs her life support and takes her body to his boat unnoticed. He heads out to the ocean where no one will notice, drops her body in, and watches as she slowly sinks into oblivion. Dexter then drives his boat right into the middle of the hurricane, supposedly killing himself. His body never surfaces, everyone assuming he is dead. Hannah, at a restaurant with Harrison, reads in a newspaper that he is presumed dead. As the screen goes black, we open with the final scene in an undisclosed location and see a man unloading tree logs in a mill, from his semi. The man goes to a secluded home, not talking to anyone, and sits down at his table. It is then that we find out that the man is a bearded scraggly, Dexter.
Being a huge fan of the series since season 1 episode 1, I feel that the series ended nicely. I didn’t want to see the happy ending that some people were, but I didn’t necessarily want to see him caught or dead either. There were some very symbolic things happening in this last episode. Dexter knew that everyone he had ever loved or cared about ended up dead. He couldn’t do that to Hannah and especially Harrison. All he had ever wanted since a child was to be like everyone else and feel something like everyone else did. Once he did, he realized that he was disastrous in the lives of the people he had cared about so dearly. So his punishment for himself was seclusion. The hurricane he drove right into at the end, I felt reflected how he felt about his life. His life ended up being a hurricane out of control, causing destruction, with no end in sight. So rather than taking the easy way out, he decided he would rather seclude himself from everyone left that he loved, in order to keep them safe from him.
While many people felt betrayed by the ending, I felt it was a great way to tie it all up. So I pose a question, how would you have ended the series? And there is a lot of talk and rumors going around of a supposed spin off. Showtime and show executives have all been quoted as saying they would like to have the Dexter name live on in some form or another, although there have been no official talks between them of such things. Yet.
Would you like there to be some kind of spin off? If so, what would the spin off be based on? Would you like to see Michael C. Hall reprise his role as Dexter once again?
“In the brain and not the chest. Head shots are the very best.”
How to live with Zombies…Fido style!
Being a zombie fanatic has its drawbacks. Watching film after film, the respective plots almost seem repetitive with few redeeming qualities. With that being said, every once in awhile I come across a Zombie flick that really stands out to me. Fido (2006), directed by Andrew Currie, is one of those zombie flicks that will always remain a favorite and has a special place in my rotting heart.
Fido opens with a delightful 1950’s black and white stylized introduction. Cheerful music chimes in the background and introduces you to Zomcon- the pioneers behind eliminating the zombie threat. Just how did they accomplish this? Dr. Geiger, the mastermind behind Zomcon, was the innovative force that realized destroying the brain eliminated the threat from the undead. Geiger also created a pacification collar that renders the undead into labor slaves, reforming them into productive members of society.
After this cheeky introduction we find ourselves in the town of Willard- which is a nice little easter egg reference to the original 1968 Night of the Living Dead. The film follows the story of a little boy named Timmy Robinson (K’sun Ray) living in a middle class suburb. We find ourselves enveloped in a world where one of the primary concerns of the middle class suburbia is to accumulate enough money to afford a Zomcon funeral- a guarantee that once you die, you stay dead and thus do not have to suffer the fate of becoming a Zomcon undead slave. The struggle is primarily shown through Bill Robinson (Dylan Baker) who is deathly afraid of zombies, but finally tolerates one due to his wife’s incessant urgings. Timmy’s family receive their first Zomcon pet, whom Timmy lovingly names Fido (Billy Connolly.) It is hard to delve too deep into the film without giving away significant spoilers, but the dark comedy plays out the events of Timmy and his faithful Fido attempting to overthrow the evil Zomcon (hey, someone’s gotta be the bad guy.) There’s plenty of drama and struggle that create an interesting character arc, including Timmy’s mother, Helen (Carrie-Ann Moss) who develops a love interest in Fido. Beware there are minor spoilers below!
While owning a zombie pet is not necessarily frowned upon, hell, there’s even a neighbor of Timmy’s who keeps a zombie girlfriend, there is still a stigma surrounding zombies that makes people uneasy. And deservingly so! The education of young children includes shooting lessons in the schoolyard.
“Now, I know you’re not supposed to have a hand gun until you’re twelve… but it can come in real handy.”
So Fido, in his newfound home faces the prejudice of neighborhood bullies and a faulty Zomcon collar. As a result of the faulty collar, Fido unfortunately kills a neighbor and turns him into a zombie. Timmy tries to rectify the problem by killing the newly zombified neighbor, but a small outbreak manages to occur. After some futile attempts to cover up the incident, Zomcon eventually takes Timmy’s beloved Fido to be destroyed.
Of course, Timmy can’t sit idly by while his beloved friend is destroyed. Timmy manages to hook up with ex-security chief Mr. Theopolis (Tim Blake Nelson) to get into Zomcon to rescue Fido. Of course, this is where all hell breaks loose. Timmy is thrown into a zombie “wild zone” by new security chief, Jonathan Bottom (Henry Czerny,) after uncovering Zomcon’s dirty little secrets. Timmy’s father, Bill finally overcomes his fear of zombies and comes to the rescue- only to be tragically killed by Mr. Bottom who Fido viciously kills to protect Timmy. So after plenty of blood and death, Fido does have a happy ending that most zombie flicks lack. Fido is returned to the Robinson residence where he adopts the role as father of the household, much to Helen’s delight. Timmy welcomes a newborn sibling into the world (don’t worry, it’s Bill’s) and Helen remarks that she is happier with Fido than she ever was with Bill (ouch.)
Grade: A big resounding A.
What I love most about this film isn’t necessarily the dark comedy aspect, but the breath of fresh air it is. It’s a unique concept, the plot is great and keeps you interested and there’s a lightheartedness about the film that’s hard not to find endearing. This film is a must see for the zombie fanatic. It’s nice to take a breather from the seriousness and gore of traditional zombie flicks and it has a well deserved place right next to Shaun of the Dead.
Oh man, if you love a little humor with your horror, have I got a movie for you! In today’s class, we are going to be reviewing a B flick movie called “Dead Moon Rising”. Of course, it’s a zombie flick…but hey, you can never get enough of zombies, right? This movie was released on April 1st, 2007 so it came a bit before all the zombie craze. The movie was filmed in the great city of Louisville, Kentucky and stars Jason Crowe, Mike Seely, and Erica Goldsmith as well as many other talented actors. Before anyone asks…yes, it’s a B flick that is meant to look like a B flick.
“Dead Moon Rising” DVD Cover
Zombies take over the world, people meet up and travel together for survival, and it ends in some climactic scene where everyone lives happily ever after…right? That’s usually how a typical zombie movie would go, but “Dead Moon Rising” has a unique take on the zombie genre. Plus, let me reiterate that it’s a B movie, so it’s supposed to be fun. It all starts out with Jim, played by Jason Crowe, and his coworkers go through their normal day. Then they begin to notice unusual things happening when a customer enters into the store.
Actor Jason Crowe showing the group how to slaughter zombies
The group then is forced to travel from their location, where they pick up more survivors. They meet the barely legal April, Jim’s hot ex-girlfriend Vix, and even his brother tags along for the adventure. Of course, I’m not going to spoil the rest of the movie for you because I would love to see my students do their horror homework and watch the movie! It is available for purchase on Amazon as well as 7 day rentals. Still not sure what you’re signing up for? Then click here for a small preview of one of the scenes.